In today’s environment, ensuring productivity is quite challenging, especially as it comes to team productivity. After all, individual productivity can still be managed easily at a certain level, but when a team is involved, it is a mammoth task.
So, how can you get your team of software developers to stay productive and help them get more things done in the environment when team productivity is constantly challenged?
The good thing to know is that there are a plethora of ways to increase the development speed, sans having to increase the number of employees or number of hours in a workday. However, the idea here is not using those latest, fanciest development tools, as that won’t just make your software development team more productive. Those tools are just one element of the equation, and they don’t wholly contribute to the productive factor.
Instead, you don’t have to require tools but a complex system that enables your developers to get most out of the day, and, as a team, it eventually helps to reach their goals. In this article, we will be looking at ways to significantly enhance your developers’ productivity. After all, helping your team manage its time well is a crucial factor in its success. So, let’s explore how to do it.
Understanding the Concept of Productivity
Before moving forth, it is important to understanding productivity is an economic context. So, productivity is basically a way of measuring output coming from the units of input. Like if it is a factory, then it is pretty simple to measure productivity, as compared to when it involves a team because then productivity can’t be measured like a supply chain.
As per Charles Duhigg, “Productivity is about making certain choices in certain ways. The way we choose to see ourselves and frame daily decisions; the stories we tell ourselves, and the easy goals we ignore; the sense of community we build among teammates; the creative cultures we establish as leaders. These are the things that separate the merely busy from the genuinely productive.”
Mainly, productivity is about attaining the desired results in less time and effort. So, instead of working harder, it is about working smarter. And as your software developers are not a machine, so here it is way harder to measure their performance. You can measure knowledge workers by the output of their productivity. Here, quality is more integral than quantity, hence, just the time spent on a project or the lines of code written can’t really measure your productive your developers really are.
Four Productivity-Related False Hopes to Give up on
Often employers have some false hopes with their software development team, and here we discuss a few of them so you don’t end up making this mistake:
• This ‘one-trick’ to skyrocket productivity: In reality, there is no ‘one-trick’ or a silver bullet for productivity. Still, everyone keeps looking for it. It is crucial to understand that there is no one-trick that will instantly increase the productivity of your team.
• Change language to get massive gains: No, change of language has nothing to do with productivity. All you could get is maybe 5-percent gain, but that’s about it. Instead, choose a language applicable to that problem as that way your team would be able to comfortably use it.
• Due to backlog (prioritization), double productivity is required: It is critical to find your team’s focus. After all, it may not be a productivity problem, but instead of a backlog issue.
• People work better when put under pressure: Not true at all. By putting them under a lot of pressure you may succeed to get out a higher level of performance, but then they will enjoy their work less, and this will, in turn, affect the work quality.
Now that you are cleared about the false hoped regarding productivity, now let’s learn how you can actually improve your team’s productivity in the right ways.
How Can you Make your Team More Productive?
• Focus on the big picture: It is pertinent to clearly articulate the goals, or else there would be confusion, which you don’t want, right? Confusion would simply lead to getting busy spinning their wheels without really attaining great results towards an objective. A clear-cut plan increases your chances to attain your goals, hence setting real and clear goals is crucial for the productivity of the software team.
These goals must be smart and do the estimations to achieve them with your software team. After all, programmers would be more productive when they have done the estimation themselves, compared to scenarios when it was done by the manager without any consultation with the developers. Smart goals are achievable, measurable, realistic, specific, and timely. Once the goals and estimations are set, next you require determining the skills needed to attain the goal. Then break down the goal into smaller milestones. Finally, it’s time to assign the task to the team members. This way you have set clear goals and successfully determined what your team exactly needs to work on.
• Data-Driven Approach: To start with, you require to clearly see where your team spends most of their time. This way you get an estimate on the biggest time-wasters, and then you are addressing the most pressing ones. Try asking your software development team members to estimate how their time is spent or you can ask them to keep a track of their workdays for a period of few weeks. This helps in seeing the activities your developers are spending most of their time on, and accordingly, the financial value can be attached to it to not just see the wasted hours but wasted money as well. These surveys should be done anonymously, in order to avoid distractions in data.
There can be some team members who try tricking the system, to showing more work than they did actually. This tactic would run the whole point of data collection, as what you actually require is data reflecting reality. Meanwhile, you can also try to initiate a talk with the developers about the roadblocks encountered by them in their work. This would give some really interesting feedback.
• Setting Individual Expectations: It is integral to have a one-on-one conversation with your software development team members. Let them clearly know about the priorities as well as determine their roles & desired contribution to attaining the team’s goal. It is best to have these one-on-one conversations frequently, so you are giving them regular feedback and helping in effectively manage their time. This helps the developers in enhancing their performance, without feeling stressed, or overloaded.
Meanwhile, another important thing is micromanaging. If you are doing it, then you will further increase your team’s productivity challenges. Instead, it is advised to let them figure out how to get there. Ask questions, lead the conversations, but don’t give direct orders. This way developers will themselves figure out the best possible solutions. This way there will be a sense of personal achievement hence the developers would contribute wholeheartedly.
• Minimize/Eliminate unimportant tasks: Anyone can tell that “meetings” are top time-wasters. However, they can’t be avoided. So, what can be done instead? Well, few ways are reducing the number of meetings, setting a time-limit, making sure to have an agenda, closing each meeting with an action plan. In, short there must be a clearly-defined purpose for each meeting. Having an agenda before the meetings set a clear path for conversation and anyone taking part can prepare in advance. This will speed up the meeting, while also making it more effective.
At the end of the meeting, ensure to assign exact actions to the team members. Always end up the meeting agreeing on the next action steps, or else you’ll need to have meetings for discussing having meetings. Another great way to reduce time spent on meetings is daily stand-up meetings to discuss the project’s progress. As per a survey, standing reduces meeting time by 25%.
• Motivate Developers: As per the studies, the motived software development team produces ten-times more, as compared to a team that is not motivated. When you motivate developers, it results in increased productivity. Offering incentives helps in keeping the developers motivated and as every developer is different, hence you need figuring out the best incentive for them. The productivity of any employee improves when there is an incentive involved. This way, your development team members will feel part of something important and will contribute significantly to the project.
• Feedback loops: Feedback needs to be given by the team leaders to the team members quite frequently say bi-weekly or weekly. This helps the developers to improve further and stay productive in reaching the team’s goal. Frequent feedback helps the team stay right on track and offer information about the project’s current state. There can be a suggestion to allocate the team in a better way and key areas to focus on.
Final Note: For a team, it is quite easy to get distracted while working, and it is important for a team leader to get back their focus swiftly. Above we have discussed a few ways to help the team get more productive. Ensure that the goals are set clearly and the team members are involved in the estimation. Following these steps and having regular one-on-one conversations and frequent feedback will help your team members enhance their productivity and improve way faster.